May 1, 2023

Cybersecurity for Small Accounting Firms – Own the Unknown

By: Center For Accounting Transformation / article

As a small accounting firm, you likely handle a significant amount of sensitive financial data on a daily basis. From tax returns to banking information, your clients trust you to keep their information secure. However, cybercriminals see small accounting firms as prime targets for attacks due to their often-limited cybersecurity resources.

A data breach or cyberattack can have devastating consequences for your business, including:

  • Loss of client trust and reputation damage
  • Legal and financial penalties
  • Downtime and lost productivity
  • Loss of data and business interruption

By implementing cybersecurity measures, you can reduce the risk of these consequences and protect your business from online threats. Sounds simple enough, right?

But, accounting firms pose another level of complexity when it comes to cyber protection.

Where it begins…

For accounting firms, it’s more than just paying an IT specialist or company to manage firewalls and software updates, train your employees, and implement 2-factor authentication.

The types of software accountants use are more complex than what any other type of small business uses. Add to that the fact that accountants store a tremendous amount of personal data subject to IRS security regulations, and you have both a significant risk and an easy target if the right policy and technology are not put in place.

Policy? What policy?

IRS regulations require accounting firms to have a written information security policy (WISP) in place. In fact, when you renew your PTIN, you are also required to check a box stating that you are in compliance with this requirement. The FTC Safeguard Rules also have at least 8 specific requirements that must be met within the policy and its accompanying procedures. 

One of the questions we hear most often from small firms related to cybersecurity is, “Do you have a template security policy? Who can we go to for this?” 

Over the course of several months, it became apparent that a solution was needed to bring enterprise level cyber protection to small firms at an affordable price. 

Every firm, regardless of size, deserves the peace of mind that their client data is safe and protected and that they are in compliance with IRS and FTC regulations. 

The SOHO Protection Package

This is how the SOHO Protection Package came into existence. Cybersecurity for accounting firms should begin with creating a policy that ensures IRS and FTC compliance. Once the policy is in place, it will determine how to layer in the appropriate technology. For some firms, this is done in collaboration with their existing IT service provider. However, every firm is different, and for those who need more comprehensive support and technology, packages can be customized to achieve any level of support needed.  

The goal of the SOHO Protection Package is to empower small accounting firms (25 employees and under) with enterprise level cyber protection and peace of mind at an affordable price. Here’s how we do it:

  1. We learn about your firm’s services and tech stack via an initial consultation.
  2. We identify the best package for your specific needs and budget.
  3. You enjoy peace of mind knowing your data is protected and your firm will not face disruption.

Own the Unknown

Tax season is over, but your cyber security risk is not. It’s time to own the unknown and give yourself peace of mind by ensuring that you have the right policy, technology, and strategy for compliance in place to protect your firm and your clients. Contact an advisor today to learn about the SOHO Protection Package solution that is right for your firm.

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